CAFB March News

Happy March!

We’ve been busy this month settling into our new Davis George Campus, celebrating our volunteers, gearing up new initiatives and outreach efforts including our Break the Cycle presentations and re-vamping our VOICES FOR CHILDREN tour. We are poised to celebrate our grand re-opening in just a few days, and we are eager to show off our new space.

Congratulations to all our wonderful volunteers who we recognized and celebrated at “An Evening with Our Stars” Volunteer Awards Dinner on February 11.  You are truly making a difference for the children of Fort Bend! Read all about the evening below.

Last year, 222 Fort Bend children in foster care benefited from our transformational programming and dedicated advocates who are helping them find normalcy and stability. I am pleased to report that for the first time in years, the number of children leaving foster care exceeded the number entering care. The efforts of Texas CASA and Child Protective Services (CPS) to implement Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) in Texas and the increase in adoptions by family members are contributing factors to this positive change. Read on to learn more about CFE and what it is doing for children.

While the number of children coming into foster care may be decreasing, more and more children are coming to Children’s Advocacy Centers including ours where we saw 2,468 children last year alone. As a result, we need additional volunteers to work shifts in our CAC. If you are a trained CASA Volunteer without an active CASA case, I urge you to consider helping us. We are hosting a special training this month for CAC volunteers.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend



Progress Meter: The Campaign For The Children’s Sake
As we prepare for our Grand Re-Opening, hear about the design of our new campus from the Gensler architects who designed it. . . Project Architect John McWilliams, AIA and Interior Designer Kimberly Anderson RID, NCIDQ, IIDA.

watch the video NOW!

CVRT check for proceeds from their fun run in October

Thank You Crime Victim’s Response Team
When the Crime Victim’s Response Team (CVRT) hosted its 14th annual Crimes Against Persons Conference at the Stafford Center in February, Child Advocates of Fort Bend Children’s Advocacy Center Program Director Fiona Remko and our partners from the District Attorney’s Office served as presenters. Fiona spoke on Trauma and Child Abuse and Assistant District Attorneys Claire Andresen and Jenna Rudoff presented on The Crime and Prosecution of Human Trafficking. During the conference, CVRT presented a $3,000 check to CAFB Bilingual Criminal Court Advocate Claudia Sorto and Bilingual Forensic Interviewer Brenda Ramirez. The funds were proceeds from a Fun Run which CVRT held in October and will be used to help children heal.

The Crime Victim’s Response Team (CVRT) was formed in 2004 to help victims of all types of crimes in Fort Bend County by promoting networking between agencies and organizations in order to put victims first in the initial response, handling and disposition of criminal cases and the healing process. Renee Johnson, our Criminal Court Advocate, has been a member of CVRT for seven years and serves on their board. We are grateful to CVRT for supporting us and our programs!

 

Voices for Children Happenings. . .
We recently attended our annual VOICES FOR CHILDREN workshop to help define our goals for 2020 – 2022 supporting the creation of our Transforming Lives Initiative. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting initiative. The training was a full two days with a heavy focus on Cultivation and Major Gifts.

Special thanks to the following people for taking time out of your busy schedules to be part of this important work:  Dave Johnston (Board Member), Shiroz Virani (Board Member), Zeenat Mitha (Community Volunteer), Ruthanne Mefford (CEO), Lisa Moore (Development Director), Jenetha Jones (Grant Writer) and Lindsey Castellanos (Community Outreach).

We are currently re-vamping our VOICES FOR CHILDREN tour with new building flow, new stories and the utilization of volunteers to give testimonials as well as share the impact their volunteering has made on them personally.  Tours will be offered 2-4 times per month on Wednesdays at 9am and Fridays at noon.

We are also recruiting new Ambassador Volunteers!  Ambassadors are short term volunteers who introduce new people to CAFB by hosting 10 guests for a VOICES FOR CHILDREN tour of our agency.  Are you a current volunteer waiting on a case? Are you part of a book club, ladies or men’s group or a civic organization? Are you a VOICES FOR CHILDREN Circle member?  Please consider being an Ambassador to help us share the important work happening at Child Advocates of Fort Bend.  Contact Dana Mersiovsky at dmersiovsky@cafb.org or 281-344-5106 for details.



Welcoming New Staff Members!
See who joined our team. . .

Please help us in welcoming new staff members Rose Rodriguez and Jennifer Brown. Rose is our new Family Advocate Case Manager and Jennifer is our Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator. Both are newly created positions. Rose will be following up with CPS and law enforcement to get updates on cases to keep the families connected and engaged. Jen has been involved with our agency since 2018 as a CASA Volunteer and office volunteer. She also worked as a Child Life Specialist as Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, TX.  She will be recruiting new volunteers alongside Lindsey and Casey as a part of our Community Engagement Team. Lindsey, who previously handled both Community Outreach and Volunteer Recruitment, will be our new Community Outreach Coordinator. We are very excited to have Rose and Jen as a part of our team!

 

2019 volunteer council
An Evening with Our Stars – Volunteer Awards Celebration!
What a night it was! Volunteers walked the Red Carpet to the sounds of applause and cheers from our staff and then headed into the black and gold ballroom for dinner and awards.  We recognized 16 volunteers who had given 5 years of service, 13 volunteers with 10 years of service, 2 volunteers with 15 years of service and for a whopping 25 years of service we recognized Beth Camacho and Kathy Eyring.  Collectively, these volunteers have given 300 years of service to Child Advocates of Fort Bend!  Thank you so very much for your dedication and commitment.  Then it was on to this year’s award recipients.  We heard stories of volunteers who had devoted countless hours to children with severe medical needs, volunteers who had been that reliable trusted person a child played games with every week when they came for therapy, a volunteer who made sure we had no naked dolls by painting swimsuits on all the Barbies in the CAC play room, volunteers who headed up our building expansion and capital campaign, partners who went that “extra mile” to ensure a child had what they needed along their journey to healing and partners who provided pizzas and so much more.  The night was capped off with the award of Child Advocate Volunteer of the Year which went to the Volunteer Council for all they have done to take good care of our staff during our relocation and temporary offices this past year.

Congratulations to all our volunteers and all our award winners!  You are true heroes!

See award winners and photos from the evening

 

 


Training Our Staff
Clinical Family Advocate Amna Ahmed, Therapist Elena Petre, Therapist Carolina Coronel, and Bilingual Forensic Interviewer Brenda Zavala attended the 2nd Annual Salud y Bienestar: Strengthening Professionals’ Capacity in Serving Latinos Reservation conference. Therapist Elena Petre presented a talk on suicidality in Latina youth and  emotional invalidation as a risk factor for it.

The conference was a great opportunity to learn how to better serve the diverse Latino community. Not all Latinos are the same – they come from different backgrounds and upbringings. In addition, it was a great opportunity to network and collaborate with professionals from other agencies.

 


Volunteers Needed 
If you have already gone through the CAFB training and you are waiting on a case OR if your case has closed and you are awaiting a new one, we have many other ways for you to volunteer. If are available during the day, we would love for you to fill in a shift at our Children’s Advocacy Center. Since moving back into our new building, we need volunteers to assist with children coming into the CAC for appointments. If you are interested in filling a shift, please contact Melissa Johnson at mjohnson@cafb.org or Jennifer Brown at jbrown@cafb.org.

Can’t volunteer during the day? That’s okay – we can still use your help. We need Ambassadors to help spread the word about the work that we do, volunteers to help with our Break the Cycle presentations and outreach efforts and volunteers to help with our events, including our upcoming Gala. There is always a place for you at CAFB! For information on how you can help, contact Lindsey at lcastellanos@cafb.org.

 

Break the Cycle
Break The Cycle Prevention Presentations Off to a Great Start! 
Thanks to our Speakers Bureau and staff members who have spoken to more than 377 students and community members so far this year. We have presented to many local schools and community groups. Presentations included Fort Bend ISD and LCISD, George Development Center – Head Start Programs and local Exchange Clubs.

If you would like us to speak to your school or group OR if you are interested in being a part of our Speakers Bureau, contact Lindsey at lcastellanos@cafb.org.

 

N.E.S.T. Update 
Please check out the N.E.S.T Activity Calendar on our website to get the insight for upcoming events and resources available to you when visiting your families!

 

What is Collaborative Family Engagement?
Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) provides CASA volunteers and CPS personnel with tools to use in building or cultivating a support network for children and parents involved in the child welfare system.  Mobility Mapping is considered the number one engagement tool recommended for use in CFE.  The map provides a visual timeline the person draws of their life, starting from the place they first lived and/or their first memory to the present day.

If you would like training on how to do Mobility Mapping, contact Jackie Townsend, CFE Coach at jtownsend@cafb.org or 281-923-9166.

 

 


Continuing Education
Check out these continuing education opportunities:

Advocacy for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Course
This free e-learning course was created by Saving Innocence and Dallas CASA to equip you to identify victims of trafficking, understand the unique needs of these survivors and provide them with the highest level of advocacy.Access this training

Rock the Capitol! Legislative Advocacy Skills for the CASA Network
CASA volunteers, have you ever thought about taking your advocacy to the next level?
In this video, you’ll learn about all things legislative advocacy, including what it’s like being on a CASA Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) and building relationships with legislators. The video also features a model visit between a LAT member and a Representative at the Capitol!
Watch the video below and learn how you can help transform the child welfare system for the better.
Watch now!

 

Fort Bend County is in the midst of election season and Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) is looking for volunteers interested in talking to legislators about CASA and CAC priorities.  Fort Bend County has four House districts (85, 26, 27 and 28) and three Senate districts (13, 17, and 18) to cover. Join the Facebook Group, LAT Champions of Fort Bend

Rhonda Kuykendall, our LAT Chair was asked to participate in a training video for LATs across the state of Texas. Rock the Capitol! Legislative Advocacy Skills for the CASA Network will cover 1) Why and how to be a Legislative Advocate, 2) All about being on a Legislative Advocacy Team and 3) Cool new skills like emailing about bills and visiting elected officials.  It also includes a model visit between a LAT member and a Representative at the Texas Capitol!

If you are interested in participating to achieve our goals for 2021, contact Rhonda Kuykendall at rhondakuy@comcast.net.




Through the Looking Glass Gala!
Save the Date for our 20th Annual Gala for the Children. This year’s event on May 2nd at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square is themed Through the Looking Glass. https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/basic-gala-facts/

Please join us for a lively and festive evening of endless possibilities and lots of fun. Included in the evening is live music, a delicious dinner, silent and live auction, wine, jewelry, furs and a raffle. Past Galas have entertained nearly 600 guests. This is one of those events you don’t want to miss!

We are currently accepting sponsorships, auction donations and committee volunteers. If you’re interested or have any questions, contact Lisa at Lmoore@cafb.org.

 


FRIENDS Mission and Martini’s

FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend is looking to host their annual Mission and Martinis membership social on April 2 from 6pm-8pm the home of Pat and Brad Somers. Please contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at kristin.janossy@gmail.com if you would like to attend or receive more information about what a $40 membership provides for children who have been abused.  All are welcome to attend to hear about the amazing things that FRIENDS provides to the children served by CAFB.

Light of Hope / Pinwheel Project
Join us on Saturday, April 4th for The Pinwheel Project. Hosted by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, this free community event is held annually at Homestead Park at 1422 Eugene Heimann Circle in Richmond – directly across from the Justice Center This event is fun for the whole family. There will be food, games, face painting, music, give-aways and more. Child Advocates of Fort Bend and many others will be participating at this event to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention month. Visit us there to pick up your blue ribbons to tie around neighborhood trees, blue ribbon pins, bracelets and other goodies.

Mark your calendar!

March 5, 2020  Davis George Campus Grand Opening

April 4, 2020 Light of Hope at The Pinwheel Project 

May 2, 2020 Through The Looking Glass Gala 

September 24, 2020 Voices for Children Breakfast

December 11-12, 2020 Christmas Home Tour